May Day: Labor History of the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 272

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Waterfront workers were at the vanguard of the labor movement; the word “strike” has its origins in work stoppages on the London docks in 1768, when sailors “struck” the sails of ships to keep them in port. In New York, skilled shipworkers organized some of the earliest trade associations, and they agitated for steady wages and reduced working hours as far back as the 1820s. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, federal regulations and political patronage often stifled workers’ ability to strike, but by the time of World War II, the massive workforce of the Yard was heavily unionized, and the good-paying jobs would form the backbone of Brooklyn’s middle class. In this virtual program, we will examine the long history of labor organizing at the Yard, how workers fought for their rights in the absence of formal unions, and how the unions ultimately proved powerless against changing politics and economics of the shipbuilding industry in New York.

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(Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History: Brooklyn’s Homefront during World War II with Brooklyn Public Library

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The history and legacy of the Second World War can be seen all around us in Brooklyn. Once home to hundreds of factories, shipyards, and warehouses, and responsible for sending millions of service members off to the front lines, Brooklyn was arguably one of the most important communities in waging and winning the war. Using locations from communities across Brooklyn—including famous sites like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Army Terminal, and lesser-known sites that help tell stories about labor, housing, and culture—as well as primary source documents and oral histories, this program will help illuminate Brooklynites’ experience of World War II.

The (Re)connecting Brooklyn’s History series brings the fascinating work of historians to an audience of students and educators through online presentations and resources for sustained engagement with local history topics.

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Celebrate Black History and Industry at the Brooklyn Navy Yard | Episode 263

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To celebrate the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s 221st birthday, which takes place during Black History Month, we’re looking at the past and present of Black trailblazers and innovators at the Yard. Join this panel discussion as we examine the vital role played by Black sailors and shipworkers since 1801, and how the Yard has been an engine for economic empowerment since it became a city-owned industrial park in 1969. We will be joined by entrepreneurs, artists, and craftspeople in the Yard today, as well as staff from the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. Special guests will include Kyiesha Kelly of Hip Hop Closet and Gina Riley of Rebel Designs.

Brooklyn Navy Yard logo

This program is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

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A Staten Island Farmer’s Travels Abroad with Justin Martin | Episode 260

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Join the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House for a fascinating presentation by Justin Martin, author of Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Justin will highlight Olmsted’s travels to England while he lived at Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, and his subsequent writings about these travels. Olmsted departed from Staten Island for a walking tour of England in April 1850, returned in October, and both wrote (1851) and published (1852) his observations in Walks and Talks of an American farmer in England while on Staten Island. Justin will discuss how these travels influenced Olmsted’s social thinking and landscape designs.

This program is offered in partnership with the Friends of the Olmsted-Beil House as part of the ongoing celebrations for Frederick Law Olmsted’s 200th birthday year, Olmsted 200.

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Street Vendor Scavenger Hunt Closing Ceremony | Virtual Program

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For the past month, teams have been exploring New York City completing scavenger hunt challenges all about street vending. With over 100 teams competing, it has been an intense race, as teams had to complete 40 challenges while also raising money for the Street Vendor Project. Join us for our closing ceremonies as we look at some of the highlights of the competition, and most importantly, announce the winners and award prizes in these categories:

  • Scavenger Hunt Champion – Cloudy with a Chance of Matzah Balls
  • Scavenger Hunt Runner-Up – Eat Something New in Queens 
  • Vendor Power Spirit Award – Bones Day 
  • Fundraising Champion – Cloudy with a Chance of Matzah Balls 
  • Best Scavenger Hunt Photo – Los Tamarindos Dulces 

Thank you to our sponsors Culinary Backstreets, Arepa Lady, Kings County Distillery, Nick Golebiewski, and Maxwell Schiano

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Exploring New York City’s Stair Streets with Michael Cairl | Episode 255

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For the past three years, our friend Michael Cairl has been recovering from a stroke that impaired his mobility and forced him to get around the city differently. As part of his recovery, Michael has been exploring the city in new ways and documenting it on his blog, On Foot, On Wheels. On foot, he has been climbing the city’s many stair streets, tackling more than 20 of them on his urban walks with friends and family. There are over 100 mapped public streets in the city that are actual staircases, most of them in the hilly sections of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, (including the one made famous by the 2019 film Joker), but Michael’s also climbed them in Brooklyn and Queens. On this virtual program, Michael will share some of his favorite spots he has discovered, and his passion for making the city more accessible to all. While you can’t navigate these streets on wheels, Michael’s adaptive tricycle built by Adapt Ability allowed him to continue his love of cycling, and all proceeds from this program will support Adapt Ability Bikes.

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Economy, Access, and Resilience: Staten Island’s North Shore with the Waterfront Alliance, Part 2 | Episode 254

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In the second installment of this series on the history and ecology of Staten Island’s North Shore, we are joined by Karen Imas, Senior Director of Programs at the Waterfront Alliance to discuss the organization’s recent study of island’s northeast shore, stretching from the Verrazzano Bridge to Stapleton. This study takes a community-centered approach to dealing with issues of waterfront access, resiliency, preparing for climate change, and the working waterfront using the organization’s Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines (WEDG).

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Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 Turns 10 | Episode 252

Photo of the lobby of BLGD 92 showing a large anchor and visitor services desk with a staff member and group of visitors gathered around it

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The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 opened its doors on Veterans Day 2011, 11/11/11, making it the first publicly-accessible building at the Yard in over a century, and the first in a series of projects that have pushed back Yard’s walls. BLDG 92 was created to be the public gateway, containing not only the museum of the Yard’s history and contemporary story, but serving as a hub for educational and public programs, and brining the Yard’s Employment Center closer to the community. On this virtual tour of BLDG 92 and its exhibits, we will look at how this project was realized, what the exhibits tell us about the Yard’s story, what is missing from that interpretation 10 years on, and how the Yard engages the public today through different sites and programs.

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Virtual Inside Industry at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for Open House New York | Episode 249

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The Brooklyn Navy Yard is the hub for Open House New York Weekend, with food trucks, pop-up eateries, outdoor activations, and tours. We will be hosting a series of virtual tours on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram Live @bklynnavyyard starting at 12pm with a tour of the food trucks that will be setting up shop at Building 77 all weekend. Then we’re going into the studio with artist Charlotta Westergren, and we’ll finish off the day with a tour of whiskey production at the Kings County Distillery.

Watch on the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Instagram IGTV.

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Brooklyn Army Terminal Virtual Tour for Open House New York | Episode 248

A dramatic look up at the window frames that connect two sides of the Brooklyn Army Terminal's gigantic and imposing Building B, made of poured concrete with off-set balconies

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Take a virtual visit to one of the most popular sites of Open House New York Weekend, the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and join us for a live exploration of the site’s architecture, history, and industry. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1918–1919, the Terminal is an architectural and engineering marvel that served as a major military installation for nearly 50 years. Today it is a city-owned industrial park that is home to over 100 tenants, including manufacturers, technology companies, nonprofits, artists, and more. On this virtual tour, we will explore the history and architecture of the stunning atrium, and visit with Adapt Ability Bikes, a nonprofit that builds adaptive bicycles for people with disabilities, and stop into BioBAT Art Space to see the work of artist Tatiana Arocha.

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